BNP boasts of support at dozens of schools

17th October 2003 at 01:00
More than 80 primary and secondary schools across the country have been named on a British National party website as having pupils who support its hard-right policies.

The Young BNP asked active supporters to email it the names of their schools, which were then listed on its website. The list includes 81 schools and colleges, and more than 20 universities. Although the YBNP said no primaries were targeted, at least two junior schools are on the list.

The leader of the YBNP, Tony Wentworth, 21, who is studying politics at Salford university, said he started the list to allow young people to show their support for the BNP without fear of repercussions. He admitted the list had angered the schools involved, but said he was not obliged to remove their names. The site makes clear that only pupils and not the schools back the BNP.

Mr Wentworth said: "I don't see any problem with campaigning at schools.

There wouldn't be an outcry if it was the Liberal Democrats. The press and politicians are only reacting this way because we are coming out on top."

The YBNP website is offline for a redesign but Mr Wentworth said it would be up again in the next few weeks with the names of at least another 80 schools.

Westborough high school in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, is one of six in the Kirklees area, including two primaries, on the list. The area has seen a rise in far-right activity recently, and a member of the BNP sits on the local council.

Head David Roche said he had been aware of the site for about eight months but that there was no way to remove his school from the list. He insisted there was no BNP activity at the school. "The BNP is trying to show that they have more support than they actually have," he said. "We have detailed monitoring systems and strong links with the community. If there was an issue in this school, we would have dealt with it."

The site tells pupils that left-wing teachers are trying to brainwash Britain's youth, and adds: "History books no longer tell us about the great achievements of our ancestors. Instead we are told that our forefathers were evil, rotten and twisted."

A spokesperson for the Commission for Racial Equality said schools were legally required to eliminate racial discrimination. "The CRE looks to schools to build good race relations amongst the pupils so extremist groups who try to feed off young people who may be vulnerable to prejudice will find the door closed in their face."

Ivan Lewis, skills minister, condemned the BNP for targeting children. He said:"The vast majority of young people abhor racism and will have nothing to do with the BNP. Teachers and learners in named institutions will be outraged by their inclusion on the BNP list."

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